The Intagibles are the Glue that Hold Businesses Together

One factor I emphasized in my new book, 360 Degree Business Management is small business owner’s disdain for proper corporate structure and management.

Whenever we are consulting for small business owners and mention proper management system, they usually say, “Will it lead to more sales and profit?” To them, business starts and end with displaying goods in your showroom and wait for customers to show up.

The intangibles are the systems and innovations that sustains the day-to-day operations of an organization. They may not directly lead to sales, but they are the foundation that susutains the organization.

I don’t think that Tony Elumelu knows all the branches of United Bank for Africa PLC, but he is not afraid of someone stealing money or changing the ownership of a branch because there is a system that sustains organization.

I used Moses and Jethro as a case study in the book. Moses led Israel out of Egypt. When they got to the desert, a system was needed to be able to lead over three million people properly. Unfortunately, Moses failed to set up a system and chose to manage the affairs of over three million people alone.

“And so it was, on the next day, that Moses sat to judge the people; and the people stood before Moses from morning until evening.” Exodus 18:13.

That is how some small business owners run and ruin their businesses. The business has the potential to go global, but it is managed by just one man.

Moses was managing over three million people alone! He sat down to administer and deal with their challenges from morning to evening. Moses would have died if not for the professional leadership advice Jethro gave him.

“So when Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he did for the people, he said, “What is this thing that you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit, and all the people stand before you from morning until evening?”…So Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “The thing that you do is not good. Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself.

Listen now to my voice; I will give you counsel, and God will be with you: Stand before God for the people, so that you may bring the difficulties to God. And you shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and show them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do.

Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. And let them judge the people at all times. Then it will be that every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they themselves shall judge. So it will be easier for you, for they will bear the burden with you. If you do this thing, and God so commands you, then you will be able to their place in peace.” Exodus 18:14, 17–23.

The instruction Jethro gave to Moses is the foundation of management today. With that instructions, Moses was able to set up systems and structures, selected leaders, trained them, and assigned duties to them. That way, the Israelites were able to reach the Promised Land. Do the same thing.

Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood shared this amazing story regarding one-man business.

“Several years ago, we had an engagement with “Zach Petersen,” CEO of a privately held global company.

His company had grown very quickly in large part because its major customer had attained Phenomenal growth and success. To all appearances, the future seemed promising.

Petersen prided himself on being a finance man. Everyone knew that when you went in to see him, Petersen would ask for a “return on investment” before he would agree to support any initiative.

For most part, this worked. However, he asked for hard numbers on everything, including initiatives that were very difficult to quantify. And if something could not be quantified, he would not support it.

Over time, this meant that he did not invest in intangibles such as leadership development, culture, talent development, and ensuring collaboration across departments. In spite of his speeches to the contrary, Petersen nurtured a competitive, cutthroat environment among his direct reports and throughout the company.

As a result, direct reports tended to leave him after a few years. When they left, they described him as too competitive, a micro-manager, lacking strategic vision, abrupt, and so on.

Over the years, his company attracted talents because of its ability to pay good salaries and because of its interesting business challenges and opportunities, but it did not know how to keep people around for the long time, especially at the most senior levels. In particular, it had not been able to keep a CFO for more than a year.”

Petersen’s story is repeated thousands of times a year, all over the corporate world. Petersen’s leadership skills were an optical illusion; the assessment process that led to his being placed at the top job was flawed.

He had skills to be a strong player in a narrow specialty function but lacked the depth, breadth, and wisdom to succeed as a CEO. In effect, he became a one-man can of leadership repellant, driving talent from the organization and weakening the confidence of external stakeholders.

Most small business owners are like Petersen. They established businesses that have the potential to grow exponentially, but their inability to set up systems, employ talented people to run the company with them hinders the potential of whatever they establish.

But there is a way out. You can use this period of lockdown to create the intangibles that will help you to sustain your business or organization. Simply click this link and follow instructions. We will get back to you.

To order my books and audio programs, call 08064143363 or 07032681154

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Keep soaring!

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3 thoughts on “The Intagibles are the Glue that Hold Businesses Together

  1. Martina Onyilo says:

    Your write ups have always been a blessing to me. It addresses issues of my career, finance, business idea, development, leadership, Spiritual growth etc.
    I have faced this challenge with employers in the past and presently facing this challenge with my new employer.
    I’ve been thinking of a solution for a while now. Because it difficult to work with business owners who don’t want to create the intangibles.

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